26 March 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
Eight children between the ages of 14 to 17 years old were arrested in Beit Ummar during night raids from 6th to 11th of March conducted by the Israeli occupation forces following a nonviolent solidarity demonstration for the hungerstriker Khader Adnan on the 21st of February.
On Tuesday 20th of March the youth went to court at the Israeli military court at Ofer and faced a sentence of being banned from Beit Ummar, where they live with their families, for a period of 6 months. The youth are being accused of throwing stones at Israeli military installations. The detainees are Ayesh Khalid Sabri Awad (17 years), Basil Khalid Hassan Abu Hashim (15 years), Zain Hisham Khalil Abu Maria (15 years) Sami Amer Ahmed Abo Joudeh (16 years), Emad Mohammed Saed Solaiby (16 years), Mohab Jawdat Adi (14 years), Bilal Mahmud Awad Ayyad (16 years), and Ahmed Ali Mahmoud Solaiby (16 years)
The announcement of the sentence aroused opposition on the part of family members of the accused, leading to removal of the family members from the court and adjournment until the 25th of March. Issa Solaiby, father of Ahmed, says his son was also beaten by 4 soldiers in the court.
Hisham Abu Maria, father of Zain , claims that the children are being pressured to agree to false accusations. He said, “They made him (Zain) say he threw rocks at the soldiers even though there were no soldiers” present at the time noted in the charges.
The village of Beit ummar has around 17000 inhabitants and is surrounded by illegal, Zionist settlements. According to Issa Solaiby a member of the local Popular Committee, Beit Ummar used to consist of 33 000 dunams of land. The building of the separation wall by Israel and a road that is closed off to Palestinians took 13 000 dunams of the village land.
Since then an additional 3000 dunams have been stolen by settlers living in illegal Israeli settlements. The inhabitants of Beit Ummar suffer from violence from the settlers living in the surrounding settlements. Issa Solaiby also complains that the settlers prevent the farmers from access to their own land and destroy olive trees and grape vines.
In March the settlers living in illegal Beit Ain settlement destroyed 14 olivetrees, 21 grape vine plants, and 2 citrus trees from the village in an act of incitement.
According to Issa the settlers also enter the village with soldiers and guns to make the villagers aware of their aggressive presence. One year ago 17-year-old Yousef Ikhlayl was shot and killed by Israeli settlers as he was farming with his father. His killers remain unpunished.
Many of the villagers have been arrested and gone to jail. Imprisonment is a problem especially with young people. According to Muhannad Abu Awwad 10,000 villagers have gone to jail and at present 30 inhabitants, most of them under 16, are serving time in Israeli occupation prisoners.
Muhannad himself went to jail for two years from the age 21 until 23 and is now studying law.
Satu is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).